Cherries, so far, have not been an easy or rewarding crop to grow. I know that the trees are still young and they are bound to increase output with age and proper care. Last year I didn’t get so much as a single pretty flower, much less any fruit. This year we seemed to be on track for a decent crop but it never materialized.
The tree that showed the most promise, the Black Tartarian, put out tons of flowers and originally set dozens of fruit. Many of these fruit were stunted, never growing and eventually withering off. Others were attacked by insects. The rest were gobbled up by birds before they even had a chance to get ripe. Bummer.
The smaller and more spindly of the two, the Stella, had fewer flowers and set fewer fruit. However, the few fruit it did set managed to survive long enough for me to take some action. I tied plastic bags around the few cherries that made it, to keep the birds away, and I’ve been doing what I can to keep bugs away (I’ll need to do a MUCH better job of that next year). Finally, with some serious effort and daily observation I managed to harvest some cherries:
I know what you’re thinking. “That sure is an attractive representative sample.” No. That’s the entire harvest. 6 Cherries, and two of them had insect damage on the back that made them mostly inedible. With the family gathered around, I cut up the good ones and we all had a taste.
The color, obviously, was good. The texture and flavor of them was great as well. Xander kept asking for more until there weren’t any. We’re all pretty excited for next year, especially if we can do a little bit better than this year. The question is “how?”
Challenges and Plans
The Black Tartarian tree was the better performer last year. It had more leaves and put on more growth than the Stella. This year the tide has changed: The stella put on more leaves, larger leaves and more new growth. Next spring I’ll have to be more aggressive about fertilizing it. I may pull up grass around both cherry trees, mulch, and apply some serious fertilizer and compost. Nitrogen is sorely needed, and probably some trace nutrients as well.
The Black Tartarian tree also had a problem with Black Aphids, with many of the newest leaves being completely infested and deformed. Next year I’ll look at some agricultural oils to control the aphids and maybe some products to control the ants (which help “farm” the aphids).